About a Girl:

Interview by Maddie Sensibile

Los Angeles-native Clara Polito bakes up creative vegan treats for her bakery, Clara's Cakes,
and her Inception Cookies will blow your mind.

How did you come up with the idea to create your own vegan bakery?

When I went vegan, I was disappointed with the vegan-baked goods that were out there, so I taught myself to bake and learned that I really loved it. I entered some competitions and had a really great response from people. As more people inquired about ordering, I decided to make it more serious than a hobby.

What sparked your interest in baking, and why do you love it?

I'd say my taste buds sparked my interest in baking. Not being able to go to a market and buy a cake or some brownies made me get in the kitchen and experiment. It would've driven me crazy if I didn't start baking!

What non-edible inspirations go into Clara’s Cakes?

I'm very DIY oriented; it's a huge part of Clara's Cakes, and also a huge part of who I am. Some people that inspire me in life are Kathleen Hanna and Ian MacKaye. My mom is a definite inspiration to me, she's always had a pretty eclectic style, so that's definitely worn off on me. I love Linda Rodin's style; her apartment is amazing. It's fun for me to make my bake sale set ups ultra feminine. Especially when I'm selling at some punk show and in the middle of it there's this pop of girliness. I have a cupcake called Cherry Bomb so you could say The Runaways inspired that.

What do you love most about the holidays?

This is a pretty commercial response, but I love going to places like The Grove and hearing holiday music and seeing people all bundled up and all the stores decked out. The weather is so great as well; there isn't anything more beautiful than Los Angeles on a gray, cold day. Oh, and the food. The comfort food is a plus!

If you could have a Thanksgiving dinner that consisted entirely of dessert, what would you bake?

I would make my spice cake with cream cheese frosting and caramel drizzle, my plum cake, and pumpkin pie. Then I’d serve some butterscotch pudding on the side. Mmmm... I can't wait for Thanksgiving!

Aside from baking, what are your main interests?

I love seeing bands play. Some of my favorite venues in L.A. are The Smell and Pehrspace. I really like creating and organizing events. I put together a teen art exhibition, Teen Creeps, this past summer and it was probably the best summer of my life because of that. My other main interests include cuddling my dogs Liberty and Rosa, and making zines.

What are some of your favorite places to eat in Los Angeles?

Flore Vegan on the weekends has a special brunch menu and I always get the Tofu Benediction. It's the best breakfast I've had. There's a vegan sushi place in downtown L.A. called Shojin that's incredible! They have a sushi roll called the Dynamite Roll that's amazing, and I love the staff.

What is the worst holiday food you've ever had?

To be honest, turkey is the worst holiday food I've had although I haven't had it since I was very young. Staring at the turkey carcass always made me sad!

Out of all of your own Clara's Cakes baked goods, which is your favorite to bake and sell?

I'd have to go with the Inception Cookies because they are super fun to sell. It's hilarious to hear the reactions when I say it's a chocolate-chip-cookie-covered Oreo. Or sometimes they just think they're really fat cookies and then they bite into them and freak out! I love it; they always get a positive response!

What are your favorite cheesy holiday movies and soundtracks to watch with friends or play at parties?

A lot of my favorites are ones I watched when I was little, like Nightmare Before Christmas, Halloweentown, Elf, Olive, the Other Reindeer, and Eloise at Christmastime. Eloise at Christmastime to this day makes me want to live in an apartment in New York with a fancy lobby. And is it just me, or did Buddy's crazy spaghetti look kind of good?

Any special unique holiday treats we can look forward to from your bakery?

For fall I've been making oatmeal maple pies! I do a spice cake with cream cheese frosting and caramel drizzle that's one of my favorites. For the winter I do Not So Thin Mint Cupcakes, which is a delicious chocolate mint combo that goes amazingly well with cold weather and watching movies!